Instagram Photo Editing Using VSCO App

August 11, 2017

Photography Tips

Although I wish more people were asking me about where to buy my infamous pink, fuzzy, birth control robe, the most common question I receive via Instagram is about photo editing. Ha! I have done this article in the form of direct messages to many people and I hope it helps you too!

Here i’ll write about the photo editing I do for Instagram photos using the VSCO camera App. The editing I do for print work is done in a program called Lightroom.

If you go back in my Instagram feed, you can see when I was using Instagram as a place to develop my photography business (models etc). The images were taken with a professional camera (Canon 5d Mk II) which makes even challenging light conditions look good. Now I focus on family and lifestyle. I now take 99% of my Instagram photos on my iPhone 7 plus (Mark’s recent bday shot was taken with my camera). 

As a sidenote, photos here on the blog are a mix. Screenshot and DM me if you have a question on a specific image. 🙂 

VSCO Camera

VSCO cam is my favorite editing program. People sometimes ask what filter I use. to get the look you desire, it first starts with subject matter, story and lighting. When you marry those with a filter with the feeling you love then there is magic! I like S2 and A6 VSCO cam filters. They have nice contrast (dark darks and light lights) and tones. 

You can select the strength of the filter by double tapping it and sliding left or right. I like the look of something around 8. If you go stronger than that, the image starts to look very filtery and I like the filters to work as enhancing instead of altering. 

Now that you have your filter, let’s make the look all your own…


The lighting conditions in every location are different. Most of my Instagram photos are taken in our home which has VERY different lighting than our previous home. You can scroll through and see the difference. Our lives center around the kitchen and its when our kids are most photographable. The kitchen faces West. The images have very different colors based on time of day or weather (overcast or sunny). 

Pumping up the exposure can add a little more contrast and adds a cheeriness. 


Bump up the the whites and darken the blacks/dark tones even a little more. If I use this, it’s sparingly.

White Balance

The best advice for achieving beautiful tones in your images is mastering white balance. This means making whites white and having photo that is not too green, blue, pink, yellow…you know?

This starts with the lighting situation when you take the photo. For example, my evening kitchen photos are always warmer with the setting sun coming through the windows while the morning photos have a cooler/bluer tone and then can be tweaked in the editing process. Adjust the TINT on VSCO cam to get those undertone out and whites white!

You might want a rosy/pink tone to your photos. Again, the original or “raw” image is going to make the most impact on your final product but you can give your images a pink tone or green tone with the tint adjustments or with filters. 


I play with the warmth to get the yellow tones out of my image because I prefer cooler tones. If you also prefer cooler tones, you can play between this, filters and contrast to get those golden tones out. 

When the image is too cool (say on a cloudy day), then I add a tiny bit of warmth to make colors pop because they can be drowned out without enough natural light. 


There are many other adjustments you can make like adding grain to make your photo look more like film. Each adjustment changes the feeling. That film look might pair great with a vintage vibe or nostalgic feel you want for example.

Raw iPhone 7 Plus image taken in the evening/West facing room

Instagram Post After Edits

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset +7.5, Exposure +2.1, contrast +0.3, tint +0.3, temp -0.4 and cropped

Another Edited Image 

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset. This was taken in the morning with a little overcast weather.

All three photos in this post were edited very similarly. Each one had a very different raw image lighting scenario. 


1. Arrange your most frequently used tools and presets so that they are all grouped in front for quick editing.

For tools:

  1. Open an image for editing in VSCO cam.
  2. Press and hold down on one of the tools until they all start shaking. 
  3. Hold and drag each tool to set it in the order that works for you.
  4. When you are done arranging, just hit the list button in the lower right of the screen.

For presets (AKA filters):

  1. Open an image for editing and select the filter icon (circle/lens looking icon in lower left of screen).
  2. You will see all the filters lined up at the bottom. the first “filter” rectangle on the left is “shop” and the second is “manage.” Select manage.
  3. Scroll to your most used filters and select the star icon. these will now be moved to the front of all the filters. 

2. Cut and paste edits from one image to many

Maybe you have a group of photos taken in the same lighting conditions. Edit one and then cut and past like this in VSCO cam:

  1. Select an edited image.
  2. Select the “three dots” icon in lower right hand of scree.
  3. Select “copy edits.”
  4. Select one or more images and hit the “three dots” icon again then choose “Paste edits.”


I’m working on a post about Instagram lifestyle photography next. I will also be talking about light! Please let me know any questions you’d like answered there. Thanks!

  • Sara

    Holy shit. I’ve been using VSCO for forever and never knew you could copy edits. That’s genius! ✨